Saturday 13th May, 2017

Not even trying

Parking with due consideration obviously involves too much effort for some:

Friday 12th May, 2017

Torsional rigidity

Posted by at 11:42 am in In the garden, Making stuff.

A couple of years ago a friend was dismantling his conservatory and, knowing how we like to re-purpose potentially-useful materials which are too good to chuck away, he kindly let me have a stack of unwanted used multi-wall polycarbonate roofing-panels. I duly stashed them behind the greenhouse for future use.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when it was both warm and windy. The greenhouse auto-vents were opening the windows but the wind was twisting them about because they weren't rigid enough. A few hours with a saw, some tape and a few screws soon saw them "faced" with polycarb, now they're nice and stiff and are defying the wind quite well:


Looking at the offcuts, and remembering that the long side of the greenhouse gets more sun now that the willow tree has gone, I decided to make some shades. They have been very effective at diffusing the sunlight, and so far we've not had any scorched plants. I might make some larger shades to deploy overhead for when the Sun's higher during summertime:


My over-the-road neighbour Chris helped out with the above, so as a thanks for his input he now has a nice new polycarb window in his workshop. Here are his pics of it:


There's plenty left for more re-purposing... I've a mind to see if it's any good for making cloches.

Thursday 11th May, 2017

Oh FFS! He’s standing again! (Version 2, with added YT clip)

Posted by at 7:27 pm in A bit of a rant, In the News.

This is a re-hash of my post of 7th May 2010. Not much has changed, so for obvious reasons it's a copy/paste job with only minor edits and additions...

For 30 years we've had the same MP, and in all that time we've only ever seen him once, when he was in Hinckley town centre drumming up support for his re-election in 2015. Hardly surprising, really, as he still lives nowhere near his Bosworth constituency, he still lives 140 miles away in Sussex, which is still even further away from Bosworth than Westminster is. He's tried to claim expenses for astrology software and for an intimate relationships course, and was guilty of accepting cash-for-questions. He believes that homeopathy can fix the NHS. He's still never responded directly to any of the questions that I've put to him, preferring to "sub out" the job to somebody else. We had high hopes that he'd be ousted in 2010, and even higher hopes in 2015, but, despite calls for him to stand down he's going to be campaigning for yet another term.

His obsession with using his parliamentary position to campaign for homeopathy is, to me, just plain wrong. He's paid to represent his constituents, not to pursue his own personal agenda.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not anti-homeopathy, I'm not anti-Tory, I don't much mind which party ends up in government and if the Tories had decided to adopt a different candidate here I would have given him/her due consideration for my vote. No, I just want to see the back of this self-serving fool. Actually, seeing ANY part of this fool is unlikely. He's like the absentee landlord, happy to accept the rent-money but never there when you need him to fix the property. It's not what's expected of a public servant, and certainly not what I expect of my representative in Parliament.

We're going to be screwed. Again.


I think he gets through the candidate adoption process using homeopathic methods like this:

Thursday 4th May, 2017

One of the Water Signs

Posted by at 6:26 pm in Rambling on....

About this time last year I returned from one of my longer stays at LRI to find that we'd had a slow leak where the cold water feed was joined to the plastic cistern at the back of the loo, the cause was a fibre-washer which had perished. I had to rip up and throw away the floor covering in the bathroom and allow the units, floor-boards and plasterboards to dry for a few months. Luckily the leak was caught before it seeped down so far for it to trash the lovingly-crafted suspended ceiling beneath the bathroom and above the kitchen. Said suspended ceiling is actually laminate flooring stuck to a suspended timber-batten framework using aero-adhesive, so repairing it would be either a bodge-job or a complete replacement, neither of which would be a job to look forwards to.

When I was satisfied that everything in and under the bathroom had fully dried I made plans to re-cover the floor, only to be thwarted by a new leak - the shower-screen seal had given up and had to be replaced, and a load of silicone sealer was applied for good measure. Yet another drying-out period was required. Again, the suspended ceiling survived.

At about the same time we noticed some dampness on the kitchen floor, and there were some water-damaged laminate-flooring planks. That was puzzling, because we couldn't find a cause for some time, but it definitely wasn't anything to do with the bathroom leaks. After a few days we found the cause - the tumble-dryer had "walked" slightly from its proper location and was resting lightly on the plastic ring-nut of the cold-feed pipe for the adjacent washing machine. The gentle tumbling action had made the dryer's chassis slowly undo the cold-feed ring-nut and it was allowing water to seep out. Once tightened, it was fine and the leak was stopped, it's not been a problem since then, and the laminate planks are now dry with minimal damage which we can live with until it's time to renovate the whole room.

Two days ago I noticed that one of the unpopulated grow-bag trays in the greenhouse had water in it, and I know that I didn't put it there. This morning the water was deeper, so I surmise that there's a minor leak in the greenhouse roof. It's not an urgent matter, and it wasn't raining so I put the simple repair job on the back-burner while I put the finishing touches to the fruit-cage - I had to transplant an established redcurrant plant to a container, haul it into the cage and then finish spreading bark around it.

After that I went back to the house, made a brew, and decided to have a few minutes planning the refurbishment of the now-dry bathroom. I looked up at the suspended ceiling, thinking how lucky we'd been that it had survived undamaged, but when I did I noticed that it wasn't right, it was buckled and slightly damp. It looks like fresh water-damage and it's directly below the bath-taps and bath overflow. Looks like I have another strip-out to do, another plumbing job, and another period of drying out. It's an extra-wide bath, so to get to the undersides of the taps and to the overflow I'll have to cut an access-hatch in the stud-wall in Anna's bedroom, that won't go down well but it's either that or rip out the tiled-in bath and start again.

Looks like the bathroom floor will have to wait a bit longer 🙁



Unlike our good-for-nothing MP I don't believe in astrology, but, according to those who do, I'm a Cancerian. Ooda thunkit?


Saturday 29th April, 2017

Cage fighter

Posted by at 6:25 pm in In the garden, Making stuff.

Finished today - a job which we started two years ago but which was interrupted by unforeseen events.

We believe it to be bird-proof, unless they arrive armed with wire-cutters.


Now I need to turn my attention to protecting the strawberry troughs:


There's no peace for the wicked, it's said.

Friday 28th April, 2017

The simple things you see are all complicated…

Posted by at 12:18 pm in A bit of a rant, In the garden, Shiny new kit.

A "Barrow-in-a-Box"... with only one moving part, seven components and a handful of nuts & bolts, drawing up accurate assembly instructions really ought to have been a doddle.

In an episode of madness we decided to defy male instinct and years of engineering & assembly experience. Instead, we followed the instructions to the letter, just to see how things would work out. What could possibly go wrong?

You can find the instructions here in .pdf format, but to save you the hassle I'll walk you through the odd bits.

First up - tools required. It says that I'd need a flat-bladed screwdriver for the M8 bolts which are parts 7 and 9:

but that's bollocks, parts 7 and 9 are all Torx-headed:


And then there are the 2-off front supports  - parts 6. Whoever specced the folding of the ends of these is an idiot:

And just for good measure, whoever made those supports didn't deburr them, so they have edges like ragged razors.

Eventually we bent the supports into submission with minimal effort, tightened all of the fittings, and stood back to admire our handiwork.

It doesn't live up to the expectations I had for it being a "HEAVY DUTY BUILDERS BARROW" (yes, on the box they omitted the apostrophe). Compared to my previous barrow it's cheap and tacky even though, allowing for inflation, I paid almost twice as much for it. The old one's front support was 32mm dia 1.5mm wall powder-coated steel tube and was part of the 2-piece welded-together braced frame, this one has those 2 pressed straps which, although described as "robust", appear to have been made from compressed KitKat foil - if I can bend them easily by hand, I can't see them withstanding the rated 150kg load for very long. They are bolted to a 3-piece 30mm dia 1mm wall painted steel frame that's held together by 2 bolts and wishful thinking.

After having previously had barrows with pneumatic tyres, and after having to replace the tyres or inner-tubes every few years due to punctures or perishing, this time I opted for a puncture-proof job. I've used such barrows before and they've been fine, but this one is awful - there's no "give" or "bounce" in the tyre, it may as well have had an iron-banded wooden wheel off an old hay-cart. The axle is the shank of a long M10 low-grade steel bolt sleeved with a bit of flimsy 12mm dia steel tube, unlike the old one which had an axle of hefty galvanised 32mm dia 2mm wall tube.

The tray's pre-galv steel is a gauge or two thinner than my old one and the edges are turned but not re-turned, so there are exposed sharp and ragged edges which have already cut my hands and gloves.

And the nuts... barrows have to put up with a lot of abuse, so there's a fair chance of nuts coming loose, therefore locking-washers or nyloc nuts are what's needed, but no, here we have low-grade soft-steel flanged nuts and no washers, except for the nut on the axle-bolt which isn't even flanged.

I'm not impressed. An Eastern European migrant builder may well think it's the Bentley of barrows, but a burly Brummie brickie would probably think it's more of a Trabant.

Wednesday 26th April, 2017

Open door policy

Leaving the door open, with the keys in the ignition and the car blocking the road, is just asking for trouble.

Next time, I may well oblige.

I'd imagine that being a courier without a car would be a bit of a bind:



Tuesday 25th April, 2017

Hen’s teeth

Posted by at 12:45 am in Projects, Shiny new kit.
Tags: ,

These are as rare as rocking-horse shit and could well be the world's last decent pair in my current size*:

Dutch Army DPM trousers. Renowned for their durable thicker temperate-rated fabric and for their superb no-drawcord no-belt-required waist-adjustment system which allows the waist-band for be resized +/- 2 inches, or the complete top-end to be opened, with minimal hassle.

I was lucky to find these, they were on Fleabay, described as "used, like new" or something like that. When they arrived I was pleased to see that they were unissued, unmarked and still in their original unopened military packaging. Result!

But this could be the last pair I ever find. I might have to make the move to temperate-weight MTP jobs which don't have the same durability and versatility. That said, I do already have some ongoing projects involving MTP 🙂

Air Arms S200 Mk II with HuMa external regulator, quick-fill & gauge, Mobius ActionCam (25mm lens) & USB power-bank, a GBFO scope and some MTP tape.

It's a work-in-progress 🙂

* 80-96-112 or 7585/9000 - another work-in-progress 🙁

Monday 24th April, 2017

Fog on the Barrow-downs

Posted by at 1:04 am in In the garden.

Or, in this case, "F*ck it, the barrow's down!"

There was a "ping" from the barrow as it lay upturned in the sun a couple of feet away waiting for action. It distracted me for a moment but it didn't register that it was the tyre-bead giving way. What really got my attention, and caused my arse to eat my trousers, was the unexpected "boom!" a few seconds later as a big chunk of the tyre-wall broke way and the inner-tube decided that it couldn't be "inner" any longer.

Looks like a visit to the barrow-wight is on the cards, to sell my soul for a new load-lugger.

Sunday 23rd April, 2017

For the avoidance of doubt

Posted by at 2:29 pm in Celebrations.

Happy St. George's Day!

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